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Ned Sublette
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Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo

4.63  ·  Rating Details ·  101 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
This entertaining history of Cuba and its music begins with the collision of Spain and Africa and continues through the era of Miguelito Valdes, Arsenio Rodriguez, Benny More, and Perez Prado. It offers a behind-the-scenes examination of music from a Cuban point of view, unearthing surprising, provocative connections and making the case that Cuba was fundamental to the evo ...more
ebook, 688 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Chicago Review Press (first published 2004)
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Dec 24, 2008 Reggie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? You want to know about Black people in Latin America? You want to know about US?Cuban relations to 1952? You want to know about good syncopated music? Read this book.
May 28, 2007 sphamilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: salsa fans, anybody interested in music
This is a wonderful book, the first half of an epic history which starts with an outline of the roots of pre-Roman Spanish culture and its African influences, and runs to 1952...

It puts Cuban music in its cultural, political, historical, religious and anthropological contexts, and makes a very coherent case for its influence on jazz and rock and roll. It's incredibly readable, lovingly researched, full of ideas (I kept reading bits out in an annoying way as I worked my way through it).

Wes Freeman
Feb 11, 2008 Wes Freeman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wes by: Uchenna Chi
Holy shit is this a good book! Wow! I switched from riding my bike to work to taking the bus just so I could have more time with this thing. Ned Sublette is a straight-up believer in Cuba and its music; he's a musician himself, and is bilingual, so he does his own translations (Spanish, apparently, has changed comparatively little in the last 500 years) and breaks the musicology down so that sleepy dudes on buses can understand what he's talking about while they're riding on their way to work. S ...more
Aaron Levinson
Jul 30, 2008 Aaron Levinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another friend of mine and once again I will set aside the fact that he is the smartest person I know to tell you that this book is the finest work of musicological scholarship I have ever read. Even if you are not a Cubanophile you owe yourself the treat of reading this monumental work asap. The story stretches across Africa, Europe and America and you will be gripped by every page. Ned has made all this accessible to a layperson and at the same time this work will engross even the most ...more
Sep 22, 2007 Amari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
This is a thrilling history of much more than Cuba and much more than music. It truly provides a complete education; Sublette is very opinionated and assertive, and yet he enabled me to open my mind and ears to an utterly new way of thinking about music, history, and music history. Outstanding. My only complaint is that the writing can occasionally waver between academic (but in a very engaging way) and oddly colloquial. Sometimes the prose is noticeably awkward.
Sep 21, 2008 Naeem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read the first 100 pages -- astounding! This is the definitive book, I have been told, on Cuban Music. It is long and this is only volume 1.

This is deafeningly good book. It showed me how little I know and what impeccably good taste Mr. Sublette has.
Jan 19, 2013 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-book-list
This book was an incredible read, and can delight readers with varied interests, because though it focuses, as the title says, on Cuban music. It also goes into detail on a myriad of other topics, taking a holistic approach to the development of Cuban music. This is necessary because Cuba, as with all parts of Latin America (and really any country for that matter), is an agglomeration.

It is not just that the Spanish came to the Americas conquered the island and brought in slaves thus creating a
Sep 15, 2014 Jorosel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re reading for the second time on my Kindle.Have the book edition sitting on my bookshelf.Have given it out as a gift to friends. Need I say more? Please tell me he has started the second book!
Nick Moy
Feb 26, 2015 Nick Moy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
A tour de force of cultural history and musical analysis. This is not a crash course in Afro-Cuban music: it's a deep dive. Audacious in some of the connections drawn, but ultimately brilliant, compelling and at times, exhilarating.
Oct 27, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dance-music
This book is full of amazing information from the earliest forms of music. Be ready for one of the most historical books you'll find on artists that helped create one of the greatest genres known to music. I might be slightly bias for my love of Cuban music and culture but I had a high lighter in one hand and post-its in another. This is definitely a book I will be referring back to sooner rather than later!
Dec 15, 2010 Charisse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, well-researched, and comprehensive reference on Cuban music, integrating popular and classical music with social, economic, and political history.
Oct 18, 2013 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A feast! I'll be buying a copy to keep around for reference. If you care about music you should read this. You don't have to be a Latin music fan.
May 13, 2012 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book. Worth reading again. Packed full of information. Wish I could see the dances described that are no longer here.
Aug 13, 2009 Eddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fucking amazing and should be mandatory reading for all musicians and music lovers.
Jan 08, 2014 patty marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
About 1/3 in - so far, what an amazing read on the history of Spain.
Cody Malcolm
May 28, 2013 Cody Malcolm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
The best book I've ever read about Music and Culture...
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Sep 26, 2016
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Ned Sublette is a critically acclaimed writer, historian, musician, and photographer. Born in Lubbock, Texas, and raised in Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico, he lives in New York City with his wife, writer Constance Ash. He was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 20052006, and was previously a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. In 20042005 he was a ...more
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